Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl directed by Yoshihiro NishimuraVampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsIt was Pittsburgh-born filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis who, by dint of a dozen or so splatterific exploitation films that he directed from 1963 – ’72, earned himself the nickname “The Godfather of Gore.” But, I have a feeling, Herschell, who is presently 84, might just bust an artery himself if he ever got a gander at what the Japanese are currently doing in the field of gore FX; specifically, what Yoshihiro Nishimura has accomplished in the last 12 or so years. It was the 2001 film Suicide Club that initially alerted me to the talents of this modern-day goremaster, but even that film could not prepare me for the pyrotechnic blood-geyser FX that were to be had in 2008’s oh-so appropriately named Tokyo Gore Police, which Nishimura also directed. However, it was 2009’s over-the-top Machine Girl that really made me appreciate Nishimura for the technical wizard that he is. And now, happy to say, the dude has impressed me hugely for a fourth time. In 2009’s Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, Nishimura doesn’t just contribute his trademark blood-fountain visuals, but also co-directs and is responsible for the film’s hyperkinetic editing. A genuine triple threat, the man has almost single-handedly transformed the Japanese horror and exploitation industry into one of the most visually stylish and envelope pushing in the world.

In the film in question, a love triangle of sorts is going on in Tokyo High School (the only high school in Tokyo, I suppose!). Hunky dude Jyugon (Takumi Saito) is the object of affection of both the assistant principal’s daughter, a “Valley Girl” type named Keiko (Eri Otoguro), AND the new exchange student, Monami (the remarkably beautiful Yukie Kawamura). When Jyugon eats a chocolate given to him by Monami as a Valentine’s Day love token, little does he realize that at its center is a drop of the girl’s vampire blood! But other problems soon arise to plague the lad, other than his own developing affinity for the red stuff. Keiko soon picks a fight with her pretty rival, only to take a plunge off of the high school roof and get smashed to corned beef hash in the street below. Fortunately, unbeknownst to everyone, her assistant principal dad has a rather unusual pet hobby: While dressed in Kabuki attire in the school’s basement, mad Kenji (Kanji Tsuda) and the super-hot head nurse, Midori (Sayaka Kametani), are endeavoring to bring the dead back to life! And so, using a drop of Monami’s blood to aid in their efforts, Keiko IS brought back to the land of the living, to face off against the vampiress in one truly battle royale!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsActually, though, this tame-sounding plot description can give you little idea of just how mind boggling an experience Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is; sadly, my poor powers of description and unfamiliarity with the tools of 21st century filmmaking leave me almost speechless here. From the picture’s very first scene, in which Monami dukes it out with three other Frankensteinian creations, amid flying skulls and omnipresent hemoglobin, the experience here is fairly jaw dropping. At least three scenes are genuine tours de force: the psychedelic sequence in which Jyugon eats that laced chocolate, replete with tinted lenses, swirling camera work, strobelike flashes, bloody skeletons and fractal images; the scene in which Kenji and Midori operate on an early victim, amidst candy-colored visuals and electrical discharges; and the culminating battle between Monami and Keiko high atop Tokyo Tower, while a simultaneous battle between the electric whip-wielding Midori and Monami’s servant Igor transpires below. The instances of wacky details and demented throwaway gags are almost too numerous to count, but include the Super Dark Girls Club (a group of Japanese gals who dress up in Afro wigs and makeup in a desire to be black), a wrist-cutting championship (the spectacle of these madly slashing young women may be the film’s toughest to watch), Midori gleefully using a hatchet and scythe on a young student, Monami transforming into a demon before chomping a victim in the neck (a victim who of course turns into a human blood geyser), and a flashback scene to many hundreds of years earlier, when Monami’s mom (played by Eihi Shiina , star of 1999’s Audition as well as Tokyo Gore Police) battled a vampire hunter with a bullet-spitting helmet on his head! The film is also, incidentally, hilarious throughout, such as when we learn that the Frankenstein Keiko has been given the super-tough arms of a wrist cutter, the agile legs of a Dark Girl, and the lungs of their Chinese teacher, “iron lungs capable of breathing in atmospheres with high concentrations of car exhaust.” And how bizarre it is when Kenji enthuses “At last, I can slice up Keiko’s body. It’s the sort of pleasure any man with a daughter dreams of!” Gorgeously shot by Shu G. Momose (whose work had previously appeared in Tokyo Gore Police) and with an amusing/upbeat score by Kou Nakagawa (ditto) and Blood-Stained Fellow, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is a treat for both the eyes and ears; indeed, practically every single image manages to impress! Whether you see this film for its remarkable FX, amazing story line or just to marvel at how truly adorable Ms. Kawamura is in the lead, I guarantee that you will not soon forget this ride. Yoshihiro Nishimura is now a very solid 4 for 4 with me, so much so that I am ready to rent out 2009’s RoboGeisha and 2010’s Mutant Girls Squad. Sorry, Herschell, but these films from modern-day Japan make your 1963 Blood Feast seem like very weak green tea indeed!


  • Sandy Ferber

    SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....